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Can you build a profitable automotive vertical for newspapers?

Posted by Jim Pitsenberger on Nov 21, 2014 10:50:00 AM

We discuss here another question, "Should you even try to do this on our own?"

Here are just some of the foundational aspects you will need to consider:

  • Organizational
  • Accountability
  • Recruiting
  • Coaching & Training
  • Motivation
  • Technology
  • Team Size
  • Individuals
  • Prospecting
  • Pipeline development
  • Product knowledge
  • Approach
  • Industry Tips/tricks
  • Technology

Traditional media companies have been successful for OVER 100 years, so why is it so difficult now for many to succeed in today's digital age? We propose a single, simple answer - we call it our "Prime Directive." However, we don't want to over-simplify this battlefield either - with just a single phrase that means so much more.

We are in an ever-changing sales environment. Advertisers today have less time than ever before. They have far more duties on their plates. Most decision makers now multi-task multiple roles inside their organization. They often don't want to see that new sales rep in person anymore. They are becoming used to the practice of being pitched by more product sales experts every day - mostly by phone, email and the web.  

How can your front-line, traditional media sales team survive, let alone thrive in an environment that seems to not stand still for a single day. The truth is it is not easy, but don't despair; there are companies that do it successfully each and every day!

The conversation of setting up a new automotive vertical for newspapers, etc. always seem to include clichés like these:

"Chicken or the egg?" "Spend money to make money." "If you build it they will come," to name a few. But here is what ultimately determines success or failure - "Critical mass" of LOCAL content on your new vertical. And this is what we like to call our "Prime Directive." It all starts here...

The hurdle we always run into is this fact: Viewers will not come back without content, and advertisers will not pay without viewers. Heck of a spot to be in – between the proverbial "rock and a hard place."

Unfortunately, no matter the vertical – automotive vertical, employment vertical, real estate vertical, and even horizontal classifieds - you simply MUST first develop relevant, "Critical Mass".  Without Critical Mass, you will waste any chance of a first-time, successful launch of your new digital vertical.  You must OWN your local market content first - it is critical. 

In the digital world, where constant innovations and change are the norms, inside sales experts are essential for success in new and profitable business ventures - across all verticals. Success is determined by how quickly, and creatively companies can respond to those changes with their own team of "special forces."

Front-line sales people also now face the difficulties of selling in an encroaching  national marketplace, with disappearing customer loyalty, which generate fewer leads, while competing against more competitors who have an ever-growing product set.

How do you (as a business owner, sales manager, publisher, station director) create, train, and manage a successful team of sales experts? How do you continue to make it cost effective in this type of environment?

Can you afford to waste thousands of dollars in a field sales office only to find out four months later the person you were hoping to grow your business is not even pitching the products correctly?

- How often have we heard "80% of the company's sales are made by 20% of the sales force?" 

So, if you choose to accept this mission, on top of already training experts in your core competencies, you must:

  • Specialize in Digital
  • Develop Relationships
  • Get to the Decision Makers
  • Leverage the high-touch capability of phones, email and the web.

Taking these steps WILL allow your new sales team to speak to more dealers in one day, than traditional outside sales people can see in a week!

The key to cutting the ramp-up time is integrating your great LOCAL brand, New Digital Offerings, and a HIGH Touch Sales effort.

To also be successful, you MUST merge Traditional media with new Digital offerings and deliver them to customers together. This is a HUGE tactical advantage you have in your local market over the national, digital pure-plays. You can also cut the ramp-up time by knowing what problems you will face - before you even get to that step. Here are just a few...

  • Build an acceleration team customized to your needs.
  • Determine "Who should sell?"
  • Consider Inside vs Outside Sales Reps vs Blended Roles.
  • What is the correct product set?
  • Custom vs. standard product packages?

It's critical to the success of this endeavor to analyze these factors when launching a new vertical. You must enable your organization to set SMART (Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Relevant-Time sensitive) goals for the sales team. Assess your current sales team (people, process, technology, facilities), compare them in detail to industry/peer benchmarks, and then set the detailed sales plan.

The root causes of inefficiency and ineffectiveness in sales teams can usually be attributed to issues related to People, Process, Technology and Knowledge! With good planning and review you can eliminate the majority of these inefficiencies.

"WOW – we only have to do all that?" - No worries, we can help!  


AutoConX has multiple success stories of our Acceleration Center team successfully building that "Critical Mass" with +90% conversion rates in traditional markets. We can give your front-line sales team the "in" they need in order to sell your new digital audience to your advertisers, and cement existing relationships. And here's the real kicker, AutoConX provides this as a FREE service with our platform.

In the upcoming weeks, we will be diving into each aspect of People, Process, and Technology, and how to leverage inside with outside sales to increase your effectiveness and generate new, incremental revenue.

We invite you to follow along by Subscribing to our Blog. 

Learn more about our Acceleration Center today!

Topics: Sales

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